Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You know, sometimes it's good to question statistics. To closely examine the method behind the numbers. To be a critical thinker. But when somebody I love (Hi, Nancy!) sent me these percentages recently, I just took them on faith. Sadly enough, they just felt correct.

During my father's years on this earth, our nation was at war 13.5% of the time.

During my years on this earth, our nation has been at war 17.5% of the time.

During my son's years on this earth, our nation has been at war 37% of the time.

During my grandchild's years on this earth, our nation has been at war 63% of the time.

To think that our nation has been at war for almost two-thirds of my children's lives is just so..... so..... so..... fucking crazy! And now Obama is committing more troops to Afghanistan. Thirty billion dollars and a year and a half later, where will we be?

As many of you know, my husband spent much of his childhood in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the son of a diplomat. I love to sit at his mother's table and listen to her and John remember. I marvel at the adventures of a young family in a foreign land. Unpronounceable (to me!) names of people and places roll off their smiling tongues and then, somewhere between the first and second martini, it all turns into one gigantic sigh.

I experienced this same phenomenon last month, when my family and I went out for dinner at Rumi's Kabab to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. By the end of the night, Shams (the owner) had pulled up a chair, and the boys and I listened to more stories of the glory days of Afghanistan. Again that happiness, as John and Shams shared stories of markets and travels and mountains. And then, eventually, that same heaviness, the profound melancholy of something lost.

I know we can never get the Bamiyan Buddhas back, but I just hope, one day, that the people in that region will know some sort of relative peace. And when they do, I am fairly certain that it will have nothing at all to do with us.

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